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Business culture in Ireland

It is important to be aware of the normal business culture of a country before you begin work. You don’t want to be committing any unconscious faux pas before you’ve even started! Adapting to the Ireland business culture will make the transition smooth and ensure that you succeed in your career. Expats planning on working in Ireland will find that a welcoming and friendly work environment awaits them.

Business Culture in Ireland – Working hours

The Irish are known for their work-life balance. They view work as a ‘necessary evil’. Their priorities lay with their families. The average Ireland working hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Lunch is usually one hour, and the average working week is 39 hours. Working on a Sunday is unusual, Catholic Christianity is still an important part of Irish culture. Religious and family holidays such as Easter and Christmas are official public holidays and you are unlikely to be asked to work. Irish colleagues often socialise outside of work, perhaps going for a drink in a local pub after hours.

Business Culture – Dress Code

The dress code in Ireland business culture is modest and conservative. Business suits are common for both men and women. Colours are generally dark and subdued.  Companies have different dress codes, sometimes they are up to the individual. Once you’re working there, you may find that more casual attire is appropriate. It’s best to err on the side of caution and go smarter rather than casual for your first day. For interviews, men should wear a suit and tie and women can wear either a pantsuit or a skirt and matching blouse. Shoes should be formal and covered toe. Not trainers or sandals.

Business Culture – Communication

The official language in Ireland is Irish or Gaelic, but it is rarely spoken, especially in a business environment. English is the most widely spoken language in Ireland. The Irish are known for their friendly nature and sense of humour. Remember to greet everyone in a meeting, but it is not necessary to shake hands every time you meet. The Irish are good conversationalists and will often include jokes or gentle sarcasm in their communication. Ireland business culture dictates that you are clear, honest and modest. The Irish do not like people who are too loud or who appear arrogant. The Irish like their personal space and are not physically demonstrative. Eye contact is advised, but physical contact should be kept to a warm handshake at the first meeting. The Irish tend to follow established rules and practices. Decision-making is often a slow and systematic process.

Business Culture – Hierarchy

The hierarchy in Ireland business culture is generally top down. Decisions are made at the top and directives filter down through the chain of command. Hierarchy is, however, becoming more casual and collaboration with employees is not unusual. Most people will work on a first name basis but wait until they give you permission to do so. At first, you should address people, particularly those at a higher level, using Mr or Ms and their surname, unless they introduce themselves using their first name. It is not normal to use Sir or Madam unless it is a server/customer relationship. Women are treated equally in Ireland and demand equal respect. Men should be careful to avoid unasked for physical contact with their female colleagues.

Business Culture – Etiquette

There are a few subjects that are best avoided in Ireland. Do not confuse The Republic of Ireland with the UK, these are separate countries and there has been tension between them for generations. The Irish are not English. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, not Ireland, again this is a sensitive subject. 87% of Irish are Roman Catholics. Religion is very important and affects their attitudes and culture. Avoid subjects like religion, sexuality, abortion rights and immigration. Having said that, you will find the Irish mostly tolerant and very aware of other cultures. Be punctual yourself but be aware that sometimes you need to be patient about your colleagues' timekeeping. Gifts are not usual in Ireland business culture. If you are invited to a colleague’s house, it is customary to take a bottle of wine or flowers for the host. Red and white flowers are a no-no.

Business Culture – Mundialz

Successfully adapting to the Ireland business culture is an important part of working in Ireland. Some culture shock is inevitable. Mundialz hopes by giving you all the information and advice you need; you can settle into your new working environment as quickly as possible.


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